Bruins open against Caps, looking to avoid slow start
BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Bruins rebuilt faster than expected and the result was a 50-win season in 2017-18, the 10th in franchise history.
But their playoff run ended in the second round, leaving room for improvement that owner Jeremy Jacobs hopes comes with the continued maturity of Boston’s young players around its core of veterans.
Jacobs was asked about his expectations during the Bruins’ media day Monday at Warrior Ice Arena.
“My expectations never lessen so far as this team is concerned. … They’re young, we’ve got that on our side, and we’ve got a good warehouse of talent,” said Jacobs, who’s entering his 44th season of ownership of the Bruins.
“I expect them to improve on last year. Because we didn’t start as strongly, I guess it was more the finish, we didn’t (the start) have last year.”
The Bruins started 6-7-4 last season, but their 50-20-12 record earned them second place in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference.
After defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs in seven games in the first round — the Bruins’ first playoff series win since 2014 — they fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games in the second round.
The Bruins open their regular season Wednesday on the road against the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals, who will raise their championship banner during a pregame ceremony.
As if the competition wasn’t enough of a challenge in Boston’s attempt to have a better start, they’ll have a greater challenge because defenseman Torey Krug will not be in the lineup.
Krug had a left ankle injury in the Bruins’ preseason finale against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday. Krug is in a walking boot and will be evaluated in three weeks.
Krug had 59 points (14 goals, 45 assists) in 76 games last season and was working his way back from a fractured ankle that ended his season after the fourth game against Tampa Bay in the playoffs.
With Matt Grzelcyk, the replacement for an injured Krug both at 5-on-5 and on the power play, trying to return from a lower-body injury, the Bruins’ depth is being tested early.
“Well given the fact that Torey is starting injured, I think that adding John Moore was a benefit to our group and deepening that,” said general manager Don Sweeney, who signed Moore as an unrestricted free agent from the New Jersey Devils on July 1.
Rookie Urho Vaakanainen is also in line to pick up some of the slack depending on Grzelcyk’s status.
The Bruins have at least gotten positive news on center Patrice Bergeron, whose return from offseason groin surgery was hampered by back spasms. He didn’t play in any preseason games, but practiced with the team for the second time on Monday and took contact in some drills. He anticipates being in the lineup on opening night.
Like Jacobs, Bruins president Cam Neely desires a better start to the season. However, Neely’s more interested in how the Bruins finish.
“I don’t want us to look at our point total and how many wins,” Neely said. “I want us to look at are we playing the way we want to play, are we playing the way the coach would like us to play, are we competing in a way that gives us chances to win every game and are we getting better as the season progresses as we get into the playoffs.”